With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

ACF 001: Welcome to AsianCineFest!!!

Hello, and welcome to the first posting of AsianCineFest. From New York, I'm Stan Glick.

This site is about Asian films and the people who make them: directors, actors & actresses, stunt co-ordinators, cinematographers, even some producers, set directors, and composers.

I'll be writing about films from just about every Asian country that has any sort of film industry. Films from what I like to call The Three Chinas: Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Taiwan. Films from Japan. Films from Korea. These countries are the sources of the great majority of Asian films, but I'll also give some ink to movies from Thailand, India, Malaysia, etc. I'll be writing about new theatrical releases and films available on DVD.

Living and working in New York also affords me the opportunity to cover some great film series and festivals. Mainly I'm interested in sharing my thoughts about the films themselves, not covering the festivals per se. If you live in the area, or are visiting, these entries may be of particular interest to you. But even if you don't, I hope you'll find the pieces interesting and perhaps get some ideas about films you'll want to check out on your own. In this wonderful age, Asian films are available for viewing as never before, both in theaters and on DVD.

This wasn't the case when I first became really interested in Asian films in the mid-90s. Before then I pretty much only knew about Akira Kurosawa's samurai movies and Bruce Lee's Enter The Dragon. My exposure to other Hong Kong films had been limited to poorly dubbed, panned & scanned, and insensitively edited "chop-socky" flicks on weekend TV.

My "serious" interest in Asian cinema came about as an indirect result of my starting to studying Tai Chi Chuan in 1991. My best buddy in class worked for a major publisher and was editing Sex and Zen & A Bullet In The Head which came out around 1996. It's a terrific and fun read about Hong Kong films that takes it's name from two well known flicks, the latter being one of John Woo's best known Asian works. My buddy and I started going to the occasional Asian screening at a theater near New York University and buying VHS tapes when and where we could find them.

Now, of course, Asian films can be seen in multiplexes as well as art houses, and DVDs can be bought in stores or the Internet. Here are a few of the reasons why. The turnover of Hong Kong to Mainland (that is, Communist) China in 1997 led many of the top people in the then-thriving Hong Kong film industry to relocate to Hollywood. In 1998, Jackie Chan, who had been trying to break into the big time in the United States since 1980's horrible The Big Brawl, finally succeeded with Rush Hour and followed it up with Shanghai Noon and sequels to both. U.S. directors such as Quentin Tarantino and the Wachowski brothers praised and utilized talented Asian personnel and techniques. And of course one can't help mentioning Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000. It is, in fact, a film that I regard as "cinematic perfection" - right up there with Kurosawa's Seven Samurai and Ran.

Late in 1999 I had bought a tape of a Japanese "girls & guns" flick called Tokyo Blue Case 1. It was hilarious sexploitation. By then, I'd been reading this quarterly magazine called Asian Cult Cinema for awhile, and wanted to share the joy of my "discovery" with my fellow readers. So I submitted an article, and Tom Weisser, the magazine's editor and publisher, ran it in the Spring 2000 issue. I became a regular contributor and in the Summer 2001 issue Tom honored me with my own column, which he entitled Trash Taken Seriously: Scholarly Reviews of Exploitation, Guilty Pleasures & Junk. I was doubly honored by this, because in its first years the magazine, which began publication in 1991, was titled Asian Trash Cinema.

Now, one person's "trash" is another's "treasure" - as anyone who's come across a terrific curbside find knows. Fortunately, Tom has granted me a lot of leeway in what I write about, something I appreciate very much.

Still, I've come to the point where I want to concentrate more on B-movie "trash" in my column for the magazine. AsianCineFest will supplement those writings with additional coverage of not only "exploitation, guilty pleasures & junk", but also films and themes that range a bit further afield.

That about covers it for this initial posting. Look for new posts every seven days or sooner. Thanks for coming by and I hope you'll be back again, and again, and again.

Oh, and please feel free to post comments or email me at asiancinefest@gmail.com. While, to paraphrase an old hit from the 60s, "it's my blog and I'll write what I want to," I have no desire to write just to put something out there into the blogosphere. I've started this column for you readers, my fellow fans of Asian films. I want your thoughts and feedback about AsianCineFest; they'll help me shape this site so it's a better experience for all of us. I'll read all your submissions and respond when I can. Ciao!